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Herbal treatments and practices of the Hawaiian Islands ~ La'au Lapa'au

Updated on September 24, 2007

The Hawaiian people were akamai (intelligent or wise) and spiritually in tune with the 'āina hānau (native land). They knew that in order to stay healthy or heal, the "whole" person needed to be in complete sync. The mind, the body and the spirit are one; hence the body could not be healed without attending to and healing the spirit.

Through the use of natural herbs and treatments, prayer and psychic applications, the Hawaiian people stayed strong without the major scourges of the western world, that is until the foreign ships arrived.

 "Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono" The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness
"Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono" The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness

Kahuna ~ One strong in the mana (spiritual power), a healer.

Ho'o ponopono ~ A very personal counseling process, utilizing prayer and open communication to clear out the negative energy of the mind, heart and spirit.

Lomi lomi ~ A soothing massage, extended with aloha (love) from the masseuse to the recipient. The main purpose is to relax and clear blocked energy in the body.

Lā'au lapa'au ~ The use of herbs and traditional remedies for the purpose of healing.

Some of the more common plants used for healing:

Ava or Kava (Piper methysticum) - There are many uses for this plant, it can relieve the symptoms of headaches, muscle pains, insomnia, sore stomachs, asthma, rashes, itching, fevers and colds.

Aloe (Aloe vera) - For the treatment of sunburns, wounds, insect bites, wrinkles, scratches, skin irritations, high blood pressure, diabetes.

Awapuhi-kuahiwi or wild ginger (Zingiber zerumbet) - Used to treat cuts and sores, ringworm, sprains, bruises, headaches, toothaches and stomach aches.

Ki or ti (Cordyline terminalis) - Used for the relief of muscle aches, headaches, stress and also as a decongestant

Kalo or taro (Colocasia esculenta) - For relief of pain, to prevent swelling from insect stings and bites; also used to treat asthma, stop bleeding, indigestion and as a laxative.

Ko or sugar cane (Saccharum officinarum) - Mostly used as a sweetener for medicinal compounds, but also used to dress cuts and as a tonic for babies.

Mamaki or Mamake (Pipturus) - For the treatment of thrush and to help counter listlessness.

Noni (Morinda citrifolia) - Used as a tonic and for the treatment of boils, eye, gum and throat problems, abscesses, respiratory ailments, constipation, broken bones, fevers and head lice.

Due to the haoles (foreigners) inserting their own ideas of civilization or outlawing many of the indigenous cultural practices, much of the healing techniques and knowledge of the ancient Hawaiian people were nearly lost. The Hawaiians practiced in secrecy and only of recent have started to rebuild and document the practices of old; much to the benefit of the Hawaiian people and generations to come.

** The information provided above is not intended to be used as a guide for treatment of medical conditions using plants.



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    • profile image

      jim p. 

      8 years ago

      I enjoyed the herbal information. Thank you

    • profile image

      Lomi Lomi 

      10 years ago

      Aloha JB!

      Just a quick comment to let you know that I enjoyed your hub.


    • William F. Torpey profile image

      William F Torpey 

      11 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      Great hub, Jam's Blast. I found it very interesting, and your inclusion of sources is commendatory.


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